Dan's Tackle Box

Jerry's Bait & Tackle, 2/2/2019

While Ariana was at acrobatics Alex and I went looking for something to do for an hour. We walked over to Jerry's Bait & Tackle to browse the fishing lures and archery gear and touch the mountain lion. It's like a candy store for adults. For $8 I bought Alex a vintage used fiberglass recurve bow, like I had when I was his age, some arrows, and rented a lane from Jerry's upstairs archery range. Jerry spent time with us, giving Alex archery tips, and sharing stories of fishing and hunting adventures. His store is full of keepsakes. He is definitely a genuine and interesting character. He's the real deal.

Question and answer with Jerry:
Jerry, where did you grow up?
Upton, Massachusetts.

What are your early memories of fishing and what sparked your interest in fishing?
When I was a kid my Dad took me fishing at night after he came home from work. My neighbor, who worked second shift, took me fishing during the day. So I fished day and night. It was around that time that I started selling nightcrawlers for 35 cents a dozen.

What were you doing before the bait shop?
I worked at Foster Forbes running the Plasti-Shield department where we produced labels for Pepsi bottles.

What led you to owning a bait shop?
People told me I would never go anywhere because I fished too much. Clem's Sporting Goods in Milford closed in November of 1981. All of a sudden we needed a tackle shop. Unhappy at work I talked to the owner of Skate Palace in Milford who had a space for lease nextdoor to the rollerskating rink. It was small, but I was just starting out, and it was all I could afford.

What year was that?

When did you move to the new building at 22 Bragg Slip?

If you didn't buy a fishing tackle store what would you have done for a career?
Taxidermy, but I'm glad I didn't do that. People have an experience when catching a fish that is so unique to them, and therefore difficult to capture and recreate as a taxidermist. I spent a lot of time around motorbikes too, so maybe owning a motorcycle shop.

I hear you had a crayfish living in the shiner tank at the old location, and an eel is living in the baitfish tank now. What's their story?
The crayfish lived in the tank for 5 years eating dead shiners. He was a badass. One time he got out of the tank and went after a dog. The eel has been in the tank here for 9 years now. He's a real slippery customer. We feed him worms.

Do you provide hunting and fishing guide services?
No, I need to man the store.

Do you think people fish less today compared to decades ago?
Yes, people spend too much time indoors. Walmart has a shrinking fishing department and a growing electronics department.

How has the internet changed fishing?
There is so much fishing related information on the internet, and on television for that matter, which generates an interest in fishing. The internet can be educational too. On my Facebook page I post how to videos on using ice tip ups, tying knots, and setting up various rigs for example.

Are there more or less lunkers nowadays?
I'm seeing more lunkers. Recently we have weighed numerous stripers here over 50 pounds. Record fish are being caught from places like the Wachusett Reservoir and Quabbin. There are some monsters out there. Fishermen today certainly have a chance to catch the fish of a lifetime.

You have a lot of trophies in here like the mountain lion, various fish, and bears. Are they all yours?
Most of them are, yes. The mountain lion and bears I shot with a bow.

What's the biggest fish you have ever caught, and on what bait?
In saltwater it is a 915 pound tuna caught jigging whiting. In freshwater it's a 27 pound carp from the Charles River caught on 10 pound test using a doughball made of a Uncle Josh's carp bait, corn, and strawberry preserve.

What is your favorite lure, and in what color and size?
If my ship sank at sea and I swam to a deserted island, I would use 5 inch green Kalin's Grubs on darter head jigs to survive.

Who is taking over the business when you retire?
No one. I have 2 sons, but I don't think they would opt to take over the business.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about Jerry's?
We are open every day. Everyone that works here fishes. All sorts of people come in here daily, some have never fished before, some don't know the productive waterbodies. We personally answer all their questions and provide the gear and advice that will give them the best chance of success.

The storefront at 22 Bragg Slip in Milford
Jerry's Bait and Tackle

Jerry giving Alex some tips
Jerry's Bait and Tackle

Jerry's Bait and Tackle

Jerry's Bait and Tackle

The stuffed mountain lion is the same pictured on the wall in the back that Jerry shot with his bow
Jerry's Bait and Tackle

Jerry's Bait and Tackle